"WomenFitness Magazine recently put out its "20 Best Health and Fitness Influencers of 2018". Do you notice anything they have in common? I'll tell you what I see: white, young, thin, traditionally able-bodied/not disabled, cisgender female, signifiers of wealth (clothing, setting of photo), hyperflexible/fit, visible "abs", "good" hair and teeth.
When we think of wellness, and what wellness looks like, it's her, isn't it? I like to call her “Yoga Barbie."
Now, there's nothing wrong with Yoga Barbie. She deserves to exist in the body she's in and move through the world getting the same respect, dignity, and care that all human beings deserve.
But, when you do not look like Yoga Barbie-when you are someone who's in a black or brown body, a fat body, a disabled body, a poor body-and you grow up with this as literally the ONLY representation of what wellness looks like, you start to understand some things:
- I'm not well.
- I don't think I can ever be well.
- I have to change if I want to be well.
- Wellness is for people like her, not for me.
- Spaces for wellness (yoga studios, massage tables, exercise classes, gyms, juice bars, meditation classes) are not for me.
- My body is wrong because it doesn't look like this.
These are messages that we are conditioned to believe by systems of oppression. The truth is: Wellness is our birthright. It's going to look different to each of us. A professional athlete's wellness is different from someone in chronic pain, or someone in advanced age, but we ALL deserve to pursue what wellness means to us. We should have the support and the tools and the practices to pursue wellness in whatever way we see fit, and to whatever degree we are interested in pursuing it.
Wellness is not just for thin white women. We must seek out people who look like us, move like us, have similar bodies to us, represent us. Wellness belongs to you and me.
Tag your favorite nontraditional wellness role model below so others can follow them. Let’s reclaim wellness for ourselves on our terms." via @